But Sebastian Vettel, by contrast, described the strategy call as a "no-brainer".
A round-up of the best radio soundbites from the Russian Grand Prix, where Ferrari continued its comedic misunderstandings Lewis Hamilton moved one step closer to a fifth world title with a win in controversial circumstances.
The Briton, who would not have been able to switch places with Bottas had he not pulled off a slick overtake on Vettel after dropping behind at the pitstops, stayed in the vehicle for some time after he parked up at the finish.
Wolff said that was the rationale behind the order, with Bottas not a title contender, to defend the champion from the risk of being caught and losing points.
"It's actually quite a hard day".
"We can take nothing for granted and we will stay at maximum attack on every front in the next races".
Wolff said he had also spent a sleepless night, mindful of the global controversy triggered when Ferrari ordered Brazilian Rubens Barrichello to cede the lead to team mate Michael Schumacher in Austria in 2002.
"I had to do this to make sure we secured this", he said, having explained that Hamilton had a blistered tyre. He would lose second place to Sebastian (Vettel) and that wouldn't be ideal for both of the championships, so I think that was the worry but I think in the end it proved that actually it wasn't that bad.
The 33-year-old Briton made a rare mistake in qualifying on Saturday to allow Bottas to take pole, and the Finn made no mistake in holding off his team-mate and Ferrari's Vettel on the opening-lap drag race to turn two.
"I assured Valtteri it wasn't something I asked for, but it is something the team felt was right for us to do".
The question of "team orders", once banned in Formula One but now legal, was discussed before the race with multiple possible scenarios.
The first of the pilots there came two representatives of the Mercedes, Bottas and Hamilton.
And if they hadn't take that decision, (team boss Toto Wolff) said, we wouldn't have been been able to live with ourselves. "I definitely don't think I have finished first in my career, and feel the way that I do right now".
All it takes is one failure to finish between now and Abu Dhabi, with Vettel winning all the races, and it will be Ferrari celebrating at Yas Marina Circuit.
Vettel leapfrogged Hamilton for second place by making an earlier pitstop, but quickly came under pressure from the championship leader.
Bottas acknowledges his own form this season is the reason he is not in the championship fight at this stage, and therefore had an impact on being asked to help Hamilton.